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Saturday, December 30, 2006

The IPPY Awards

Independent Publisher Magazine is the voice of the independent publisher. Since 1996, the publication has sponsored the IPPY Awards -- which for some reason stands for “Independent Publisher Book Awards.” Possibly because IPPY rolls off the tongue more smoothly than IPBA, which sounds like a Latin undergrad about to sneeze.

It isn’t difficult to figure out what the IPPYs are: awards for the best independent books published each year. There are 90 winners in 60 regional and national categories ranging from genre fiction to titles any author would be proud to announce, like “Storyteller of the Year” and “Most Likely to Save the Planet.” What may not be apparent is the incredible effect winning an IPPY has on a book’s sales.

Sure, you get money if you win. You also gain recognition. For example, one of 1997’s winning IPPY titles, The Millionaire Next Door, went on to sell 2.5 million copies. The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe, a 2004 IPPY winner, was chosen as a TODAY Show Book Club selection. Jack Fritscher’s debut novel What They Did to the Kid: Confessions of an Altar Boy sold out in hardcover after winning the IPPY, and the proceeds of the award funded a substantial paperback print run.

Both independent and self-published titles are eligible for the IPPY awards, and authors can enter their titles themselves. You’ll find rules, regulations, and an online application here. Entries for the 2007 IPPY Awards, for which all books published or reissued in 2006 are eligible, will be accepted through April 1, 2007, and the entry fee is $75 per title. Happy contesting!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Long Tail of POD

By Stephen Blackmoore

First, my credentials. I am nothing more than an asshat with opinions and a bullhorn. So take all this with a block of salt.

Last week, Sandra post about the Espresso, a print on demand kiosk that belts out a complete bound copy of a book in 7 minutes. It's an intriguing idea, and one that's been in the works for years. I'm sure it needs improvement, and there will be bugs. But whether it works or not, it's the future. It's the Long Tail.

The Long Tail is a business model where the cumulative volume of individual small sellers can overrun the cumulative volume of high sellers. In short, John Grisham and Clive Cussler do great, the thousands of other book titles taken collectively do even better. The name comes from the way the distribution graph is laid out, a small area of high volume and a long tail of low volume that stretches much further away. The catch is that they're all online.

From Wikipedia (what does it say about our current electronic society that I can even cite Wikipedia in the first place?): "Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Examples of such mega-stores include the online retailer Amazon.com and the online video rental service Netflix. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, the distribution and sales channel opportunities created by the Internet often enable businesses to tap into that market successfully."

The Espresso, and POD technology in general, plays into this business model, as do those ebook sites selling online, such as Liquid Silver, Samhain Books, etc..

This kind of model really only works so long as low volume product can still be allowed to move, which is why it works so well with digital distribution. Digital files are easy to store and cost very little, relatively speaking, to maintain. Throw in something like the Espresso, a more on demand print on demand machine than previous entries, and it opens the doors even wider.

The effect for a Long Tail distribution/publishing model is that more product can be kept "on the shelves" as it were for next to no cost, allowing those titles to still sell, even though their individual demand may be low. More possible revenue makers. And if demand suddenly appears for a title after a long fallow period (take the spurious success of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" after the DaVinci Code came out) it's no big deal.

The positive effect for an individual creator is that their books, music, art, what have you, can potentially always be available, and they can potentially continue to make money off them. Hooked on an obscure Appalachian bluegrass artist? You can find her on Amazon. A 1942 third edition detective novel from an obscure pulp writer? EBay. That documentary about lichens in the Antarctic? Netflix.

There are also some publishers who are designed from inception to handle the long tail. I'm a fan of Liquid Silver, Samhain Publishing and Ellora's Cave. Oh, don't look at me that way. Porn's a 4 BILLION industry and no one's buying it? Please.

I'm actually a fan of their business model. Some of the writing is hit or miss and the cover art? It's gotten infinitely better, but there's only so much rictus faced Poser models a reader can handle.

Anyway, they're all digital distributors. They are publisher as bookseller. They cut out the middle man and depend on a volume of diverse titles (I use the word "diverse" loosely") and an internet connection. These are not blockbusters by any stretch of the imagination. I haven't seen their numbers, but I would be surprised if they're not doing fairly well. They have relatively low overhead with no need for physical storage space beyond a server farm at their hosting company. They don't pay advances, instead paying their authors a percentage of each sale.

From the few I've talked to, the authors seem pretty happy with the arrangement, though I'd be willing to bet none of them would have a problem with getting an advance. I suspect we'll see more small presses heading in that direction.

So what are the downsides to the long tail?

Well, most existing business models don't work with it.


Friend of mine made a point a while back about independent bookstores. Loves them. Thinks they're great. But when B&N carries his books and they don't, the luster kind of peels off. They just aren't able to carry the load and so, as an author, he feels that he can't support them.

Most, if not all, independent booksellers don't have the ability to maintain the volume that is needed to operate in a long tail environment. Overhead is too high with rent, shelf space, etc. They depend on those titles that they can move a lot of.

Niche booksellers, like sci/fi and mystery, probably have it the hardest, because their pool of regulars is much smaller than a general bookseller. At the same time, since they cater to that smaller niche, they're more likely to have a regular clientele. But with rising costs and more competition, that pool is rapidly dwindling.

We all hear about indies going under because they can't compete. Some indie bookstores' bread and butter ends up being the collectors, those who want vintage mysteries, or first run hardcovers. In some cases, that's the only thing that keeps them in business.

In order to function in a long tail environment, they either need a large volume available to them and the ability to get it to the customer in a hurry. They can't beat the large chains on either of those fronts.

Some booksellers have reshaped / invented themselves to work this way with various degrees of success. Look at the number of low volume booksellers riding off Amazon's coattails in the new/used categories. Mom and pop shops that handle a few books at a time, or work with low cost remainders. They don't have to have volume because they only move a handful of things to begin with and they're fine with that. Plus they run off of Amazon's long tail infrastructure, which keeps their costs even lower. The low cost justifies the low volume.

And then you have the publisher as seller, which I mentioned above, though right now that appears to only be in digital formats, like .PDF files. As that segment grows and the technology improves that's going to cut into the bookseller's cashflow, too. Especially when a technology like the Espresso takes off.

In the long run, the indie as it exists today is going to disappear. It's no longer a sustainable model.


For the most part, they're not equipped to handle it, either. Forget the editors and typesetters, they have an enormous infrastructure devoted to nothing but manufacturing and distribution. All very tightly joined together. They have created worldwide supply chains and deals within deals that move books like arteries move blood.

POD technology like the Espresso undercuts most of that business model. I suspect that a large portion of people in the distribution industry have been soiling their collective britches over this. You don't need a truck or a warehouse to move and store books when a T1 line will do the work for you.

So far the retailers have taken the hit, figuring out the details. No incentive for the publishers to, yet. Why change your model when someone else can do all the heavy lifting for you? As the saying goes, settlers get the land, pioneers get the indians.

At some point, though, the publishers are going to look at the numbers, and I'm sure they already have up, down and sideways, and see that it just costs too goddamn much money to print and ship these things. Then, when Wal-Mart and B&N look at it and see that they can move more product and reduce shelf space for underperforming titles, both in their stores and in their warehouse and distribution centers for online sales, they're going to push it, too.

Five years and I see whole sections of Borders taken up by a bank of kiosks that will belt out your favorite thriller in 2 minutes flat. Maybe.

When Apple created iTunes, it succeeded because it created partnerships with several music labels. A technology like the Espresso is going to have to do the same thing in order to survive. If it doesn't get some high profile titles in its catalog it's going to die on the vine and be resurrected in 5 years as something faster and better. Or slower and cheaper but with better deals with the publishing houses. Regardless, it's going to happen.


As of the last time I looked, which admittedly was a few years ago, many contracts stipulated that the rights to the book reverted back to the author after the book had been out of print for X period of time.

What happens to those rights when X is potentially forever? On the one hand this can be good. It never goes away. But what if, for some reason, and there are a lot of them, the author wants his or her book back? Is this still being written into contracts as part of a boilerplate? You tell me. I've got no data on that. I suspect it's beginning to change as authors realize more how this is going to work.

I mentioned advances back... uh, way back, actually. I sure can run on, can't I? Anyway, on the one hand, they're good, because the author gets some money to actually spend the time to write the books. Beats having to juggle a day job, a home life AND two to four novels a year. Many authors depend on this in order to live. It takes time to write a book and during that time they need cash. Beats blowing sailors for candy bars and small change. Unless you're into that sort of thing.

From the publisher's point of view, though, an advance is akin to betting on black. They've got nothing saying that the book will be successful. A smarter model is to pay for what's being sold, rather than take a gamble. I'm amazed they make any money. The authors sure as hell don't.

I think we're going to be saying good-bye to the advance. I can see a model where either the author is going to get a flat fee for their work or they're going to get royalties. And how is that going to affect agents?

When you don't have to produce a thousand books to sell 300 and the money flows in faster because your time to market is shorter, the incentive to pay that much up front fades. At that point it's just another line item for cost control.

I don't want to sound bleak, and for some I'm sure I do. But that's not what I'm trying to get at.

Yes, there are a lot of downsides, but they're only downsides because we look at them through the filter of the way it works today. It's not bad, just different.

This is a change that everyone's going to have to adapt to. Maybe not now. Maybe the tech and the public aren't ready for it. But in time it will be. There are just too many savings to be had for the money people.

I think this is potentially a good thing for small presses that can take advantage of it and authors who can shift to accommodate. Not all can. Not all will want to. But give it five years, ten, and things will be different.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Future of Book Production and Selling

There has been much talk on listservs, blogs and forums about the announcement of the closure of Mystery Ink in NYC and Aliens and Alibis. I am sad to hear about these stores shutting down, but find myself wondering if we’re not on the threshold of the demise of the bookstore, but potentially beginning the journey to rebirth.

Enter a development Stephen Blackmoore alerted me to: “An ATM For Books” - Buying a book could become as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso - a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library - is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February…. The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes, including full-color laminated covers. It prints in any language and will even accommodate right-to-left texts by putting the spine on the right. The upper page limit is 550 pages…

Now, at this moment admittedly we don’t know enough about the quality of the technology and how it will be received, but I’m going to indulge in a bit of wishful thinking. It is my feeling that part of the reason some (certainly not all) independents aren’t surviving has less to do with fewer sales of books and more to do with convenience. We live in an on-demand society, where people want dinner in under five minutes, drive-thru banking and one-stop-shopping. As a result we have seen the rise of online companies allowing us to shop from the convenience of our own homes.

Right now, my book is winding its way through the final stages of production. It will soon (if it isn’t already) be listed with Ingram. Listings on amazon will follow. Theoretically, in a matter of weeks any person will be able to go to any store in North American and order the book in if it isn’t on the shelves.

Gee, what a pain. Order it in? Have to wait? But I want it, and I want it now.

That’s what we tend to think. Despite the distance and inconvenience I’ll drive to three bookstores (and sometimes more) looking for a book I want. If I’ve set my mind on getting something it feels like defeat to go home without it, even if I’ve ordered it in.

There are good reasons to order books into the bookstores. It brings the title to the attention of the staff and shows that there is demand for that book. I went through this months ago, trying to track down one of Steve Mosby’s titles. I finally ordered it in, through a bookstore. It was an enormous headache and ended up costing me more money than if I had just ordered it through amazon.

However, within weeks as I went store to store in the city, I discovered the local chain stores had started carrying his books. For me, the frustration had the payoff of seeing work by a friend make it to the local shelves. I hope when Steve’s new book comes out this spring I don’t have to order it in, but can walk into any store in the city and find it on display.

As an author I can appreciate the merit of ordering through the bookstore. Even if it costs me more money it helps a fellow author.

But as an author I don’t find it so easy to ask readers to do this for me. I feel incredibly conflicted. I want to ask everyone to order the book through their local independent, selfishly, but it doesn’t feel right to ask them to do this when I know that it might cost them more money than ordering through amazon.

Although I live 77 kilometres away from the nearest independent (that would be one way) and it takes an hour to drive there because it’s downtown Calgary, and I don’t shop downtown or do any business downtown at all so I rarely have reason to go there, I do try to make a point of taking business to McNally Robinson whenever I can. The reason is simple: This bookstore does a lot to support author events locally, which is something the chain bookstores don’t do.

Now, let’s think back to this new piece of technology, the Espresso.

I suspect a big part of the reason that independents struggle is that they don’t have the infrastructure and capital to keep as much stock on hand as the chain bookstores. An invention like the Espresso could level the playing field, as far as books are concerned. Imagine eliminating shipping costs, not to mention delays. You go to your local bookstore and they don’t have the book you’re after on hand already. Not to worry: with the press of a few buttons and seven minutes of browsing you can pick up the exact book you’re after and leave the store satisfied.

This means titles never have to go out of print. It means stores never have to lose sales because customers can’t get what they want.

But it also doesn’t mean the end of hand selling.

In my idealistic vision, I imagine going to a store where the staff actually know the books. A certain amount of stock would be printed and kept on hand to entice readers with. Any title could be made on the spot. Perhaps what we’d see is more sample books on shelves for customers to browse through, with less bulk stock devoted to a few titles. A staff person could come in early every day and assess previous sales and know how many of the latest Rankin, Connelly, Billingham titles should be printed. If it doesn’t eliminate the need for store rooms it reduces that need.

All businesses have gone through changes over time. We’ve seen the decline of the general store, which has returned in a fashion as supermarkets that sell clothes, food, shoes, prescription drugs and automotive supplies. It used to be that all restaurants actually cooked their own food from scratch. Now they order in things pre-made. When I worked as a bakery assistant I used to produce the muffins for all the Second Cup stores in the city, but I didn’t work for Second Cup. It’s the beauty of contracting out the jobs.

I think there are several factors which are contributing to concerns with book sales. Consider this, readers. Every time you buy a book you are not simply paying for the production of that book. You are paying for the production of ARCs and postage and marketing packets sent out to promote that book and others. You are paying for shipping.

You’re also paying a certain amount of buffer against the cost of the book being returned/destroyed. Paperbacks, as I understand it, aren’t even sent back. The covers are ripped off and sent back for refund, because it’s cheaper to pay to reprint the book than to have it mailed back for a refund from a store that can’t sell it.

Imagine if we could see a reduction in the cost of books because we’ve eliminated some of the expenses.

Espresso machines could be the catalyst to change. I’m not saying it will be this way overnight. I’m not even saying it will be this way in a year or two. And it’s possible that the Espresso will give way to other machines, better machines, that can better meet demand.

But I think the Espresso is a sign of change on the horizon in the book industry. While many people are nervous about this, I think there’s reason to be optimistic that there are positive things that can come out of new technology.

At the same time, I’m aware that there are many things to consider in the publishing business, things I might be overlooking. I'm interested to hear your thoughts. What are the potential drawbacks to this development in publishing?

No change comes easy. Sometimes, what saves us a few dollars today costs someone else their job. The way I see it, we’re going through some growing pains right now. We can stand still and mourn the loss of independents – and I do... it could spell the end of author events if we lose all independents – but I think we also need to start thinking about the future and what needs to happen in order to revitalize the bookselling industry. I suspect many will regard Espresso with skepticism and fear. But I hope that people will keep an open mind to the possibilities because I suspect that, like all things, it will be the retailers and publishers innovative enough to embrace positive change and take risks who will lead the way into the next phase of book production and selling.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Starting Points and Awards

Sarah Weinman provided insight into the question of whether writers should consider starting their careers with small publishers. Check out her post, Where to Begin for a very interesting, insightful perspective on the issue.

Contest News

Canadian writers are encouraged to submit work for the Arthur Ellis Awards. The Arthur Ellis Awards honour excellence in crime fiction - mysteries, thrillers... From Crime Writers of Canada:

Announcing the new Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel

Is the Great Canadian Crime Novel tucked carefully away in a drawer or even languishing under your bed?

Well, pull it out and enter it in the newly created Arthur Ellis Award category – the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel.

This new annual award from Crime Writers of Canada is sponsored by Canadian publisher McArthur & Company and has been created to recognize and promote the careers of promising new Canadian crime novelists. The winner receives a special Arthur Award from the CWC plus a cash prize from McArthur, which has first refusal rights on publishing the novel.

The competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, who lives in Canada or is a Canadian citizen living outside Canada, and who has never had a novel of any kind published commercially.

Contestants should have a completed manuscript and submit the opening chapter(s) – 8000 to 10,000 words – plus a 500-word synopsis of their crime novel manuscript. "Crime novel" is defined as crime, detective, espionage, mystery, suspense, or thriller, and can be set in any time period and crime-related sub-genre.

All entries must be accompanied by $30 per submission plus an entry form that can be downloaded from the CWC Website.

Initial submissions will be judged by a panel of publishing professionals who will come up with a shortlist. Shortlisted authors will be asked to submit their completed manuscripts for the second round of judging.

The shortlist will be announced at the end of April along with the shortlists from the other Arthur Ellis categories. The winner will be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards dinner in Toronto in June.

The deadline for submitting the 8000- to 10,000-word sample and 500-word synopsis is January 31, 2007.

For the specific submission rules and the entry form, go to www.crimewriterscanada.com and click on the Arthur Ellis Awards button.

The 2007 Arthur Ellis Awards

Do you have a book – fiction or nonfiction – or short story that was published in 2006? If you do, it may be eligible for entry in the 2007 Arthur Ellis Awards. There are six categories of awards for published material:
Best crime novel
Best first crime novel (by a writer who has never had a novel of any kind published before)
Best crime nonfiction
Best crime short story
Best juvenile crime book
Best crime book in French

Either you or your publisher may submit the work. The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2007.

For specific eligibility and submission rules, email the CWC at info@crimewriterscanada.com or go to www.crimewriterscanada.com and click on the Arthur Ellis Awards button.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Drop by Mai Wen's Asian Fun and Then Some for her Third Day Book Club review of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone. The Third Day Book Club is the brainchild of Patry Francis who explains about the selections for next month here. This is a fantastic idea that brings bloggers together to discuss books - a quick technorati search will lead to a long list of other bloggers who've posted reviews as well.

Over at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy there is a review of Corbenic by Catherine Fisher that is also worth checking out.

And the new issue of Mouth Full of Bullets, with poetry, short stories, interviews and reviews, should be up today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

On The Net

Arthur Ellis Awards

The rules for submitting work for the 2007 Arthur Ellis Awards are now posted on the Crime Writers of Canada website, including information about the new award, for best unpublished first novel.

Net News

Shots has some new material up, including an interview with Anna Blundy, features by Karl Vincent, James Twining writes about writing The Black Sun and David Harrison talks about his novel, Sins of the Father. There is also a new monthly column by Mike Carlson, called Carlson's American Eye.

Mysterical E has gone live with their new Winter Issue, featuring short stories, columns and reviews.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Allbooks Review Award Nominations

Nominations for the Allbooks Review Editor's Choice and Reviewer's Choice Awards have been announced. They are as follows:

Behind the Union Curtain by R. Sall
The Art of Original Thinking by Jan Phillips

Do you Know where Sea Turtles Go? by Paul Lowery
Reggie and Ryssa and the Summer Camp of Faery by B. Savino

Dancing in the Eye of Transformation by S. Brallier
The World's Best Kept Secret for Success and Happiness by V.F. Rayser
Non fiction-Exposed by D. Dimokopoulos
31 Months in Japan by L &L Collins

Dreaming of You by Francis Ray
Payson Heights by J. A. Wellman
Dancing in the Void by R. E. Levin

Baby Shark by R. Fate
Of Blood and Blackwater by T. Heffernan

Sci Fi/Fantasy
Cappawhite by G. Tate,
Angelos by R. Williams

Historical Fiction
The i Tetralogy by Mathias B. Freese
Danny and Life On Bluff Point 'The Man on the Train' by Mary Ellen Lee

Unscrambled Eggs by N. Brown
Old School by Robin Cook

2007 Allbooks Reviewer's Choice Award nominees

Danny and Life on Bluff Point-My Horse Sally by Mary Ellen Lee
John Audubon, Young Naturalist by Miriam E. Mason

Intelligent Design in Science, Religion and You by Nickolas Bay
Your Daily Walk with the Great Minds of the Past and Present by Richard A. Singer Jr.
Spiritual Practice, Occultism and Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Travel Guide for Beyond the Rainbow by Judy Kennedy

Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap by M. Littman
The Butterfly Dance by Christyna Hunter
The Devil's Halo by Chris Fox
The Spriting by S. Grimes

Non fiction
Nana: My grandmother, Anne Gillis by Robert Gillis
America’s Controversies: The Death Penalty, Clinton’s Presidency & Export of Democracy to Nicaragua by Ksenija Arsic

47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers by Troy Cook

Sci Fi/Fantasy
Sandryn's Glow by D. Collins
The Return of Innocence by D. Simolke
Quest for the Source of Darkness by P. Perry

Special congratulations to Capital Crime Press on the nominations of both Robert Fate's Baby Shark and Troy Cook's 47 Rules For Highly Effective Bank Robbers.

Winners will be announced January 7, 2007.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In For Questioning

Since the launch of Spinetingler Magazine I’ve gradually received more and more spam.

I must state, for the record, that I hate spam. I don’t know how I end up on some of these mailing lists but I do. I don’t know why, but there’s little use obsessing over that either.

Last month I’d received yet another piece of spam email. Yes, it was about a book. Yes, it was related to crime fiction, which is my personal passion.

But I sat there, looking at this unsolicited advert in my inbox wondering, What exactly do they think I’m going to do with this?

It was at that point that my mind started generating possibilities. In part, the thought process was prompted by other observations I’d made.

Over the past year in the crime fiction realm some of the authors I’ve heard the most talk about have been authors like Robert Fate and Troy Cook. JT Ellison said Robert Fate’s debut, Baby Shark may be one of the best books she’s ever read – you can read that on the front page of his website. Troy Cook’s book, 47 Rules For Highly Effective Bank Robbers has had an enormous amount of internet/listserve buzz about it.

I was starting to realize that the authors I was hearing about, more and more, were from independent presses or small publishers. There weren’t announcements about big advances or lucrative contracts and international sales – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but there was talk about how great their books are.

And a lot of that talk was coming from readers.

I started to wonder how readers were discovering these newcomers, despite the lack of conventional press.

I started to wonder how many other newcomers were still out there, waiting to be discovered.

Meanwhile, I was looking at a bit of spam that I couldn’t use for Spinetingler, wondering about all of this.

That’s when I realized that if there was a gap in the news, it was relating to small presses and international authors. Their news isn’t being reported to the same degree, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be reported.

Allan Guthrie started small press. Duane Swierczynski started with a small press as well. What made the difference for them was that someone discovered their talent.

What this tells me is that there’s a lot of good material out there, just waiting to be discovered. And I want to help people get the word out.

That’s why I invited a few friends to join me here. I have my writing. I have Spinetingler. I have my own blog, and my responsibilities over at Killer Year as well. I can’t do another blog on my own. SW Vaughn is an author with Wild Child Publishing. John McFetridge’s debut novel, Dirty Sweet was published this year by ECW, a Canadian publisher. I’ve invited a few others to contribute here as well, so you may see some more names in the days to come.

We actually want you to email us with information about book deals, releases, new issues of e-zines, credible contests…

This doesn’t mean we’re going to post your advertisements. We will post newsworthy information.

It also doesn’t mean that we won’t talk about big publishers or internationally known authors. It just means that isn’t our primary focus. Whether your name is Cook or Cornwell, Fate or Fairstein, McFetridge or McDermid, we’re interested.

The only question we’ll ask is, Is this newsworthy? And likewise, when we post here, we expect readers to do the same. That’s why this is In For Questioning. It’s like bringing a suspect in – you get to decide if it’s information you can use.

To officially start things off, John sent me a link about the surge in Canadian crime fiction. A reader gives a thoughtful assessment of Ken Bruen’s The Magdalen Martyrs and Crimespree 15 is making its way around the world, with a lovely photo of Russel in the Bouchercon scrapbook.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sticking With Independents

In their November catalogue, Soft Skull Press is pleased to dispel the myth that authors who publish successfully through independent presses automatically shop their next project to the big guns in publishing.

A prime example of this is Matthew Sharpe. His novel The Sleeping Father, published through Soft Skull, was chosen as a Today Show Book Club selection, and thereafter became tremendously successful. However, rather than bringing his success to the table and seeking a deal with HarperCollins or Penguin Putnam, as he could have, Sharpe returned to Soft Skull for his latest novel, Jamestown.

Other successful authors have stuck with this excellent small press as well. Among them are Wayne Koestenbaum, David Ohle, Daphne Gottlieb, and Lydia Millet, all award-winning writers who have found joy in independent publishing.

Why choose a small press? Further, why stay independent when you could gain “commercial” success? Many authors cite the personal attention as a primary reason for staying “small.” Where a large publisher will undoubtedly release your novel along with 40 or 50 other titles as part of a spring or fall catalogue, a selective independent publisher may have a dozen or less, and each of these titles is hand-fed through the process of reviews, bookstore placements, and more.

Another advantage is “shelf life.” Large publishers routinely pull titles from their active list after three months or so, unless the books are runaway bestsellers. Most independent presses keep their titles in print for a year or more, allowing unknown authors time to build an audience.

Any other independent publisher advantages you can think of?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Assortment of News

British author Steve Mosby has had the rights to his third and fourth books purchased by Droemer Knaur in Germany. Fantastic news – congratulations Steve! This follows the news that the rights were sold in Italy as well. Can world domination be far behind? A talented author who has two books to his credit already. If you haven't checked his work out yet, be sure to add him to your must-read list for 2007.

An issue of Psycho Noir is up at Hardluck Stories. You'll see some familiar names in this issue, so be sure to check it out.

Sela Carson shares news about an upcoming anthology to support a very good cause.

And Canadian author Steve Clackson displays some priceless book covers that you won’t see in stores near you any time soon.

A Call to NaNoWriMo-ers and Aspiring Authors

Visit Duane Swierczynski's blog for more details about a novel writing contest.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Demolition

The latest issue of Demolition is now available online. This issue includes work by Dave White, Jordan Harper, a rising star in the catchy first lines club I might add, Tom Wohlforth, Patricia Abbott, David Terrenoire, who proves he knows just the right things to say to a woman to set the mood, Chris Everheart, John Weagly, Colin C. Conway and Russel D. McLean. Who knew Russel's name would prove to be such a bitch to spell? Couldn't he make life easy and change his name to something straightforward, like Quertermous or Terrenoire?

Anyway, all name jokes aside, brilliant collection of writers here and well worth the time checking out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

When Hell Freezes Over

Canadian crime writer (and president of the CWC) Rick Blechta, is running a contest for his new novel, When Hell Freezes Over on his website.

Also, check out the cool e-card for When Hell Freezes Over.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Out of the Gutter Debut List Announced

An anthology of well-written, fucked-up stories, Out of the Gutter is the epitome of an underground project worthy of attention. The anthology, which the founder hopes will be the first of many, will launch with contributions from:

D.Z. Allen
Dale Bridges
Billy Elizondo
Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti
Victor Gischler
Paul Grimsley
J.A. Konrath
Hana K. Lee
Joe McKinney
Todd Robinson
Sandra Ruttan
Harry Shannon
Charlie Stella
Duane Swierczynski
and MLB (OOTG founder)

An Out of the Gutter website will be launched soon that will have more information. The first anthology will go to print in early 2007.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Genre Novel Takes Literary Prize

Val McDermid's latest work, The Grave Tattoo has been awarded the Portico Prize for Fiction, which considers all works of fiction. The Portico Library in Manchester awards the prize to a book about the North West of England or set primarily in that region and is split into fiction and non-fiction categories. Congratulations Val!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Starting Points

Court TV launches their search for the next great crime writer starting November 13.

Canadian writers should keep their eye on the Crime Writers of Canada site for more details about a new competition for unpublished authors. This is the official announcement sent out Saturday November 4 to CWC members.

The unhanged Arthur
Mothership is thrilled to announce that we will be adding a new category to the Arthur Ellis Awards – the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished Mystery Novel. The award is modeled on the CWA’s Debut Dagger. We are just finalizing the details, but essentially, you submit the first 10,000 words of your unpublished mystery manuscript (rounded up or down to the nearest chapter) along with a synopsis of the book. If you are one of the 10 people to make the first-stage cut, you will be asked to submit your completed manuscript. This long-list will be pared down to a 5-person short-list; the winner will be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards dinner.

Major thanks to LOUISE PENNY (Dead Cold, McArthur & Company), MICHAEL WHITEHEAD, and MARIAN MISTERS (SLEUTH OF BAKER STREET) who researched and developed the proposal for this new category. Louise has also brought Kim McArthur, publisher of McArthur & Company, to the table – McArthur & Company will be donating a cash prize to the winner. Even more exciting, though, is that Kim will look at the winning manuscript with an eye to possibly publishing it.